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Riz Ahmed, Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka and Deepika invited to join Oscars voting panel


Deepika Padukone, one of the new Indian-origin Academy invitees, (Photo by AFP PHOTO/ SAJJAD HUSSAIN)
Deepika Padukone, one of the new Indian-origin Academy invitees, (Photo by AFP PHOTO/ SAJJAD HUSSAIN)

STAR WARS actor Riz Ahmed and leading personalities from the Indian film industry, such as as Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Aishwarya Rai are among a record 774 people from 57 countries invited to join a group that chooses the annual Oscars as the Academy Awards seek to diversify its predominantly white male membership.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Wednesday (28) that its class of 2017 invitees was 39 per cent female and 30 per cent were from the minority community.

That marks a more than 300 per cent increase in racial diversity since the 2016 #OscarsSoWhite furor that prompted radical changes at the Academy after all the 20 Oscar nominees for acting that year were white.

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone, costume designer Arjun Bhasin, writer Sooni Taraporevala, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, filmmakers Goutam Ghose and Buddhadeb Dasgupta are among other invitees from India.

Salman Khan (Photo AFP)

“We’re proud to invite our newest class to the Academy. The entire motion picture community is what we make of it,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, said in a statement.

“It’s up to all of us to ensure that new faces and voices are seen and heard, and to take a shot on the next generation the way someone took a shot on each of us.”

Indian-origin visual effects director Mohit Kallianpur, behind animated films like Frozen and Tangled, is also on the list.

The roster of film industry professionals, including also directors, producers and casting directors, who belong to the Academy has long been cited as a barrier to racial and gender equality at the Oscars.

The Academy in 2016 announcing a sweeping affirmative action programme, pledging to double female and minority membership by 2020 and to limit voting rights to members without active movie careers.

If all the new invitees accept, the Academy will have some 7,400 members.

This year’s crop also includes Moonlight best picture director Barry Jenkins, Hamilton musical creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Twilight star Kristen Stewart and fashion designer and director Tom Ford.